Sometimes it's handy to have lists. Here are some of my favorite people, books, and ideas. I'll work on this as I have time.
Mark Twain - The first and last word in American literature. Hilarious, skeptical, and thought provoking. Among my favorites are A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses, The Innocents Abroad, Huckleberry Finn, and Letters from the Earth.
Carl Sagan - I love the PBS Series Cosmos, and the book The Demon-Haunted World.
His Dark Materials, a trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman.
Dr. Seuss. He can provide great moral lessons using simple rhyming language and wonderful illustrations. The Sneetches, The Lorax, The Butter Battle Book, Yertle the Turtle, and others.
The Hubble Ultra Deep field in 3D.